From the edge of the Darkening Land, where stand the mountains which encircle the earth-plain, eastward toward the Sunland, lie the great plains of America. Smooth and flat and green they stretch away, hundreds of miles, rising from a dead level into a soft rolling of the land, then into the long green waves of the prairies where rivers flow, where the water ripples as it flows, and trees shade the banks of the gleaming water.
Here, amidst the vast sweep of the plains which stretch away to the horizon on every side, boundless, limitless, endless, lived the plains Indians. Standing in the midst of this vast green plain on a soft May morning, after the Thunder Gods have passed, when the sun is shining in the soft blue above, and the sweet, rain-swept air is blown about by the Four Winds which are always near to man, day and night,—standing far out on the plains with no hint of the white man or his work—one sees the earth somewhat as the Indian saw it and wonders not at his reverence for the Mysterious One who dwelt overhead, beyond the blue stone arch, and for the lesser powers which came to him over the four paths guarded by the Four Winds. It was Wakoda, the Mysterious One, who gave to man the sunshine, the clear rippling water, the clear sky from which all storms, all clouds are absent, the sky which is the symbol of peace. Through this sky sweeps the eagle, the “Mother” of Indian songs, bearing upon her strong wings the message of peace and calling to her nestlings as she flies. Little wonder that to some tribes song was an integral part of their lives, and that emotions too deep for words were expressed in song.